Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the most severe type of heat-related illness, which happens when the body overheats but is unable to cool down. If not diagnosed and treated immediately, this condition may lead to multiple organ system failure or even death.
Last Updated: February 25, 2024

Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. In this situation, the body’s temperature rises quickly, and the body’s sweating mechanism (which is used to cool down the body) fails. The following factors increase the risk for heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses: • Hot and humid weather • Vigorous exercise in hot weather • Dehydration • Too much direct exposure to the sun • Infants, the elderly, athletes, & individuals who work outside

People with heat-related illnesses typically present with dizziness, vomiting, headache, and warm, flushed skin. Those who have heat stroke in particular usually have signs pointing to a more severe condition, like: • A very high fever of at least 40°C • Rapid heartbeat and breathing • Convulsions • Unconsciousness

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Once with symptoms of heat stroke, individuals outside should be moved to a shady spot or indoors, and should lie down with their legs elevated. If able to drink liquids, they should also sip cool water. For patients with heat stroke, it is most important to begin cooling their bodies right away; this could be done by removing their clothing, applying cool water to the skin, and fanning the individual. Ice packs could also be applied to the armpits, wrists, ankles, and groin. Finally, they should be brought immediately to the hospital after performing the aforementioned measures so they could receive further medical support.

There are many things to help prevent heat-related illnesses like heat stroke. Since children and elderly adults are more vulnerable to heat stroke, they require extra attention. Being sick or having other conditions like heart disease also pose a greater risk for heat stroke. Strategies to help prevent heat stroke include: • Limiting the amount of time spent outdoors • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day • Wearing lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothes • Avoiding drinks with caffeine, like coffee and tea • Scheduling outdoor activities for cooler times of the day, if possible • Taking frequent breaks from the heat when outdoor • Avoiding staying inside a car when it is hot outside
Last Updated: February 25, 2024